NEOWISE series of infrared images of C/2012 K1 on 20 May 2014
Discovered byPan-STARRS
1.8-m Ritchey–Chrétien (F51)[1]
Discovery date17 May 2012
Orbital characteristics A
Epoch11 August 2014[2]
Orbit typeOort cloud
Aphelion~52000 AU (inbound)[3]
~14000 AU (outbound)
Perihelion1.0545 AU (q)[2]
Orbital periodseveral million years inbound (Barycentric solution for epoch 1950)[3]
~600000 yr outbound
(Barycentric solution for epoch 2050)[3]
Jupiter MOID1.5 AU
Last perihelion27 August 2014[2]

C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS) is a retrograde Oort cloud comet discovered at magnitude 19.7, 8.7 AU from the Sun on 17 May 2012 using the Pan-STARRS telescope located near the summit of Haleakalā, on the island of Maui in Hawaii (U.S.).[1]

The comet started 2014 as a Northern Hemisphere object. By late April 2014 it had brightened to roughly apparent magnitude ~8.8[4] making it a small telescope/binoculars target for experienced observers. In June and July 2014 the comet was near the Sickle of Leo.[5] As of 3 July 2014 the comet had brightened to magnitude 7.9.[6]

From 12 July 2014 until 6 September 2014 it had an elongation less than 30 degrees from the Sun.[4] The comet came to perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 27 August 2014 at a distance of 1.05 AU (157,000,000 km; 98,000,000 mi) from the Sun.[2] It crosses the celestial equator on 15 September 2014 becoming a Southern Hemisphere object.[4]

The comet peaked around magnitude 6.9 in mid-October 2014[7][8] when it had an elongation of around 75 degrees from the Sun.[4] It is visible in binoculars and small telescopes.


  1. ^ a b "MPEC 2012-K36 : COMET C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)". IAU Minor Planet Center. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2013. (CK12K010)
  2. ^ a b c d e f "MPEC 2014-K54: Observations and Orbits of Comets". IAU Minor Planet Center. 26 May 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Horizons output. "Barycentric Osculating Orbital Elements for Comet C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)". Solution using the Solar System Barycenter. Ephemeris Type:Elements and Center:@0 (To be outside planetary region, inbound epoch 1950 and outbound epoch 2050)
  4. ^ a b c d "Elements and Ephemeris for C/2012 K1 (PANSTARRS)". IAU Minor Planet Center. Archived from the original on 28 August 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  5. ^ Bob King (11 June 2014). "Comet PanSTARRS Keeps Getting Better". Sky & Telescope.
  6. ^ Seiichi Yoshida (20 July 2014). "Weekly Information about Bright Comets (2014 July 5: North)". Seiichi Yoshida's Comet Catalog. Retrieved 23 July 2014.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Yoshida, Seiichi (20 October 2014). "Weekly Information about Bright Comets (2014 Oct. 18: South)". aerith.net. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  8. ^ Seiichi Yoshida (29 April 2013). "C/2012 K1 ( PanSTARRS )". Seiichi Yoshida's Comet Catalog. Retrieved 5 May 2013.